Svalbard Islands

Svalbard is an archipelago, which is commonly known as Spitzbergen (spitsbergen). However, Spitsbergen is only the biggest island of the archipelago. It belongs to Norway, but 36 countries which signed the Svalbard Treaty of 1920 are allowed to explore and exploit mineral deposits and other natural resources. Only Norway and Russia use this right, so there are two towns on the island, the Norwegian Longyearbyen and the Russian settlement Barentsburg. Longyearbyen, the world's northernmost settlement, was named after the US American entrepreneur John Munroe Longyear, who owned the Arctic Coal Company of Boston and founded the settlement in 1906. He arrived in Svalbard in 1901, and after some research started coal mining at Svalbard by opening Gruve 1 (Mine 1).

The importance of Svalbard are abundant coal measures, which are mined for decades, despite the climatic difficulties. Nearly 60% of the Norwegian population works at the Norwegian state-owned coal company. However, tourism and fishing are growing alternatives. And obviously mine tourism developed too.

The meltwater from Larsbreen and Longyearbreen creates caves both in the moraine and in the ice itself. They are often dangerous to skiers, as they may collapse, and they are dangerous to enter. We would recommend an expert guide! On Longyearbreen, a bit up on the right side, is the biggest ice cave of Svalbard. This cave is guided (see below), and there are some drops which require equipment. Very close to the village is the cave in Larsbreen which is entered in the front, and left in the outer part of the moraine. There is a morraine cave on the right side of Longyearbreen. Both are not very difficult, still we recommend to be careful.